2018 TWA Private Lands Summit - The Border Wall: Protecting Our Country or Dividing Our Interests?

2018 TWA Private Lands Summit - The Border Wall: Protecting Our Country or Dividing Our Interests?

As seen on and Land Magazine.


Because the far-reaching impacts of the proposed Border Wall can’t be accurately distilled into a sound bite, a headline or a Tweet, Texas Wildlife Association is hosting “The Wall: Protecting Our Country or Dividing Our Interests?”

“People have read about ‘The Wall.’ People have heard about ‘The Wall,’” said Event Chairman Greg Simons, a former TWA president who lives in San Angelo. “But very few people understand the full range of complicated issues surrounding it.”

The day-long program, offered as the fifth installment of the organization’s Private Lands Summit, is scheduled for July 12, 2018 at the J.W. Marriott in San Antonio. The event is designed to explore the multi-faceted issues associated with the proposal to build a physical barrier stretching from Texas to California.

Iliana Pena, TWA’s Director of Conservation Programs, said, “Many people have not seen the border firsthand, so a physical barrier may seem to be a logical solution to immigration control and homeland security, but a physical barrier brings a host of other issues with it for people and wildlife. When these other issues are taken into consideration, it raises the question: ‘Is a physical barrier the best solution, if, because of it, we lose these other irreplaceable things such as biodiversity and cultural touchstones?”

The potential impacts including private property right infringements and wildlife habitat fragmentation will be examined through the varying perspectives of seven different speakers who have a direct connection to the border between Texas and Mexico. After each block of speakers, there will be a Q&A session. Attendees will be able to direct questions to the speakers as well as other audience members in the spirit of sharing information and broadening understanding. At the day’s end, the goal is cultivating open, thoughtful discussion.

“By bringing together a diverse group of speakers, we hope to illustrate the issue’s complexity and inspire thought-provoking discussion,” Pena said. “Instead of trying to influence how someone thinks or feels, we are striving to provide solid information that will allow people to draw their own informed conclusions.”

The potential effects of the Border Wall are too important for Texans to ignore, whether they live in the city or in the country.

“Obviously, border security affects every Texan—and that is reason enough to attend—but the construction of the Border Wall portends so much more,” Simons said. “To my knowledge, there is no other symposium planned with the breadth and depth of this one. The issues are too complex to be synthesized into sound bites, so it may not be wise to base positions—personal or policy—on them either.”

image of Larry JacksonQ&A with Lance Jackson

Lance Jackson, of San Antonio, retired from the U.S. Border Patrol after serving for 25 years in Texas and New Mexico

Q: In your opinion, how will the proposed Border Wall impact the Border Patrol’s ability to fulfill its mission?

A: Border Patrol field agents are already stretched thin—when I left the agency there were about 19,000 agents to cover our northern and southern borders, with most allocated to the southwest. And I anticipate that the Border Wall will stretch the agency’s resources even further.

For instance, currently when the Corps of Engineers come in to repair roads, agents are pulled from the field to provide security 24/7. The contractors building the wall will need security. While I don’t know the Administration’s plans for security details, I would expect that at least some of the security personnel will come from the ranks of the Border Patrol itself. Of course, this will require the agency to adjust field operations which could expand additional gaps in high-trafficking border areas that are routinely patrolled daily.

The other thing that will happen is that the cartels and other criminal smugglers will reroute their activities as the Border Wall’s construction impinges on their existing routes. To respond to that, Border Patrol will need to expand its monitoring areas, which geographically stretches agency resources.

Those are just two examples. From my perspective, I think a virtual wall built from a combination of technology such as drones, sensors and cameras would provide the much needed leverage allowing the agency to allocate their limited manpower resources to other high-risk crossing locations, thereby improving security along our border.

What people have to understand is that any criminal element, such as the drug cartels, who want to breach the border operate a billion-dollar business. They have unlimited money, time and manpower to figure out how to beat us in this cat and mouse game of crossing their illegal contraband. A physical barrier will never change, so once the criminal elements figure out how and where to cross a wall, its effectiveness will be limited. Right now, the drug cartels are already using large drones to deliver bales of marijuana into the U.S. We can’t build a physical barrier high enough to intercept these drones.

The Wall: Protecting Our Country or Dividing Our Interests?

Private Lands Summit 2018
Hosted by Texas Wildlife Association

Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 8AM – 4PM
J.W. Marriott

San Antonio Hill Country Resort
San Antonio, Texas

Registration: $135 (including lunch)
Register at

The Day’s Line-up

8:30     Registration

9:00     Welcoming and TWA Position on the Border Wall- David Yeates, CEO, Texas Wildlife Association

9:20     Confluence of Political Walls and Border Walls: A State Perspective – Honorable Poncho Nevárez, Texas House of Representatives

9:50     What’s truly at stake? Ben Masters and Jay Kleberg, Associate Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

10:45   Break

11:00   Up Against the Wall– Dr. Juliet Garcia, Senior Advisor on Community, National and Global Engagement, University of Texas -Austin

11:30   Private Landowner’s Story – Franke Shuster

12:00   Speaker Panel Q& A

12:30   Lunch

1:15     A View from Our Neighbor (Mexico) – Mauricio de la Maza, Executive Director, Pronatura Noreste

1:45     Compromising a Tenet of our Conservation Model- Ruben Cantu, Wildlife Biologist and Certified Professional in Rangeland Management

2:15     Perspectives from Retired U.S. Border Patrol Agent – Lance Jackson

2:45     Condemnation Consequences – Jim Bradbury

3:15     Speaker Panel Q& A

3:45     Confluence of Political Walls and Border Walls: A Federal Perspective – Video remarks from Honorable Henry Cuellar and Honorable Will Hurd, U. S. House of Representatives

4:15     Closing Remarks – J. David Anderson, President, Texas Wildlife Association


And while you’re in San Antonio, plan to stay for. . .

Texas WildLife 2018: TWA’s 33rd Annual Convention

Friday, July 13–Sunday, July 15, 2018
J.W. Marriott

San Antonio Hill Country Resort
San Antonio, Texas

Register at

The three-day family-friendly event includes education programs, the statewide Texas Big Game Awards Banquet, stellar offerings at the Grand and Silent Auctions, wildlife-related activities for children, an expansive trade show, and plenty of social amenities such as cocktail parties, live music and a washer tournament.

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